Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice implored U.S. negotiators to leave the option of a military strike on the table when they meet with Iranian officials in Istanbul this weekend to attempt to convince Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The negotiations will involve the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, China, and France. American and European officials have been bearish on the prospects for the talks, though the White House insists “it’s a good first step.”

“The most important thing we can do when we go to the talks is not to offer to begin to lessen sanctions, because that takes the pressure off,” Rice told the Heritage Foundation in an exclusive interview on Friday.

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